Ocoee Church of God Celebrates 40 Years

November 25, 2016 by  
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ocoee-church-of-godHistorical Significance of the Tennessee/Georgia Old Federal Road in the Trail of Tears and its Connection to the Church of God

New Echota, Georgia was the capital of the Cherokee Nation from 1825 to 1838.  This is the location where the Treaty of New Echota or the Treaty of 1835 was signed on December 29, 1835 by U.S. government officials and representatives of a minority Cherokee political faction called “The Treaty Party” or “Ridge Party”. This treaty was not approved by the Cherokee National Council nor signed by Principal Chief John Ross. Regardless, it established terms under which the Cherokee Nation were to receive a sum not exceeding five millions dollars for surrendering their lands and possessions east of the Mississippi river to the U.S. Government and agreeing to move to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River, which later became part of Oklahoma.

The Red Clay State Historic Park, located 17 miles southwest of the Church of God Headquarter in Cleveland, Tennessee, marks the last location of the Cherokee councils where Chief John Ross and nearly 15,000 Cherokees rejected the proposed Treaty of 1835. Despite the questionable legitimacy of this Treaty, in March 1838, it was amended and ratified by the U.S. Senate and became the legal basis for the forcible removal of the Cherokee Nation known as the Trail of Tears.  The name came from the Cherokees who called the removal “Nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi,” which means “the place where they cried.” The last pieces of land controlled by the Cherokee Nation at that time were North Georgia, Northern Alabama and parts of Tennessee and North Carolina. The forced journey was through three major land routes. Each route could have taken some 1,000 miles and over four months to walk. The removal of the Cherokees and other tribes from their homelands in the Southeast began May 16, 1838.

The Georgia Road or present day Federal Road was a route of the Trail of Tears that the Cherokee people walked during their forced removal from their homelands.  The route was built from 1803 to 1805 through the newly formed Cherokee Nation on a land concession secured with the 1805 Treaty of Tellico with the agreement that the U.S. Government would pay the Cherokee Nation $1,600.00. The Treaty was signed on October 25, 1805 at The Tellico Blockhouse (1794 – 1807) – an early American outpost located along the Little Tennessee River in Vonore, Monroe County, Tennessee that functioned as the location of official liaisons between the United States government and the Cherokee. The route was originally purposed to be a mail route because of the great need to link the expanding settlements during the westward expansion of the U.S. colonies. It was in 1819 after improvements to the road that it was called “the Federal Road”.

The Tellico Blockhouse was the starting point for the Old Federal Road, which connected Knoxville to Cherokee settlements in Georgia.  The route ran from Niles Ferry on the Little Tennessee River near the present day U.S. Highway 411 Bridge, southward into Georgia. Starting from the Niles Ferry Crossing of the Little Tennessee River, near the U.S. Highway 411 bridge, the road went straight to a point about two miles east of the present town of Madisonville, Tennessee. This location is 20 some miles north of the Tellico Plains area that marks the site of the beginning of the Church Cleveland, Tennessee. The road continued southward via the Federal Trail connecting to the North Old Tellico Highway past the present site of Coltharp School, intersected Tennessee Highway 68 for a short distance and passed the site of the Nonaberg Church.  East of Englewood, Tennessee it continued on the east side of McMinn Central High School and crossed Highway 411 near the railroad overpass.  Along the west side of Etowah, the road continued near Cog Hill and the Hiwassee River near the mouth of Conasauga Creek where there was a ferry near the site of the John Hildebrand Mill.  From the ferry on the Hiwassee River the road ran through the site of the present Benton, Tennessee courthouse.  It continued on Welcome Valley Road and then crossed the Ocoee River at the Hildebrand Landing. From this point the road ran south and crossed U.S. Highway 64 where there is now the River Hills Church of God formerly the Ocoee Church of God.  Continuing south near Old Fort, the route crossed U.S. Highway 411 and came to the Conasauga River at McNair Landing. Near the south end of the village of Tennga, Georgia is an historic marker alongside of Highway 411m which states the Old Federal Road was close to its path for the next twenty-five miles southward.  It would have been at this point in Tennga that the Trail of Tears would have taken a turn onto GA-2 passing the Praters Mill near Dalton Georgia to connect in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Out of the 15,000 Cherokee who endured the forced migration west after the Treaty of 1835, it is estimated that several thousand died along the way or in internment holding camps. This Old Federal route is where some of Cherokee holding camps would have been located. The Fort Marr or Fort Marrow military post constructed around 1814 under the 1803 Treaty, is the last visible remains of these camps.  The original fort was built on the Old Federal Road near the Tennessee/Georgia state line near the Conasauga River. It was relocated in 1965 beside U.S. Hwy. 411 in Benton and then to it’s current location in the Cherokee National Forest on the grounds of the Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park Ranger Station at Gee Creek Campground in Delano, Tennessee. This location provides access to popular Church of God water baptismal sites.  In June 4, 1838 Captain Marrow reported having 256 Cherokees at his fort ready for emigration.

The Native Americans were forcefully removed from their homes, plantations and farms all because of greed.  Thousands of people lost their lives including the wife of Chief John Ross.  Parts of the Old Federal Road have been washed away with floods of tears, but there are parts that still remain.  The Church of God, having its roots in the same territory of the Cherokee, Chickamauga, Muskogee Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw people, plays a vital role in the process of reconciliation among the descendants of the Trail of Tears. And the historical buildings and markers along the Trail or Tears must be preserved.  The churches along the route even though they were not actual structures during the time period are a historical beacon of hope which still crying out for those lost on this tragic journey.

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Famous boatyards near Benton, Tennessee and nearby Spring Place, Georgia were operated by the Cherokee Hildebrand and McNair families respectively. These were opposite ends of a portage of very long importance in eastern North America. The eleven mile canoe portage or, latter, a wagon transport portage, between the upper reaches of the Ocoee River in Tennessee and the Conasauga River in Georgia, provided one of the most significant “shortcuts” in the East.

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Chicago’s Narragansett Church of God, Rev. James L. Slay and the 1948 Church of God Declaration of Faith

October 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Publication

Rev. James Slay of the Narragansett Church of God in Chicago was commissioned to write the book entitled, THIS WE BELIEVE in connection to the 1948 Church of God Declaration of Faith.  During the forties, you could see him driving around Cleveland in a white and green Packard. His hair was much longer then and somewhat wavy. Later, he was heard preaching a sermon at the Narragansett Church of God in Chicago a sermon titled: “God setteth the door ajar and flings it wide open when necessary.”

On August 30, 1948, the Church of God General Assembly adopted the Church of God Declaration of Faith. Rev. James L. Slay was the chair of the committee that drafted the 14 item statement. Along with its adoption, the Assembly also recommended: “That the same Articles of Faith Committee, consisting of James L. Slay, Earl P. Paulk, Glenn C. Pettyjohn, J.L. Goins, J.A. Cross, Paul H. Walker, R.P. Johnson, E.M. Ellis, and R.C. Muncy, prepare a full document of the ‘Articles of Faith of the Church of God,’ to be presented for acceptance at the next General Assembly of the Church of God.” Despite the General Assembly recommendation, the Declaration of Faith has not been modified since its adoption in 1948.

The Death of Dying Churches in the Context of Church Planting: 6 Reasons That Motivate us To Seek Church Planting Versus Church Rehabilitation

September 5, 2016 by  
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church dying

6 Reasons That Motivate us To Seek Church Planting Versus Church Rehabilitation

With the ever growing trend of Church planting, we have lost sight of the reality that too many churches are dying. We try to pretend that churches are not closing down everyday by creating hype with campaigns to rally around the numbers of new churches being started.

But if one church opens while another closes, what’s the benefit towards the Kingdom?  The math simply does not add up.  If a church is opened and has five people saved in the first service and 11 baptized the following week, but we close the doors of two other churches that same month, and this translates in an entire frustrated generation of youth exiting the church into a secular world of drugs and alcohol, then the Kingdom economics is lacking.

When there is a birth, we rejoice. When there is a death we cry.  Death is damaging, painful and entangles us in a multifaceted web of emotions and responses.  Sadly Christian churches today are dying for six major reasons:

  1. The Bible has been abandoned: “Feel-good” preaching replaces fundamental Biblical principals, morals and truths.
  2. We listen to too a multitude of church experts instead of hearing from one Divine voice.
  3. We treat the Church as a social club paying our 10% membership dues.
  4. There is more emphasis on evangelizing social media than the evangelizing the lost.
  5. We like the church box and the comfort of the walls and forget about the hurt and dying world beyond.
  6. It’s at times easier to close a church down to avoid dealing with the real problems.

Death is so damaging to the entire body of believers.  Should we not focus on church care rather than closing, and reevaluate the effectiveness of putting more money into opening new churches? What is it that motivates us to seek after church planting versus church rehabilitation?

  1. Money is in church planting vs. debt is in church maintenance.
  2. The honeymoon period of a new church is much more glamorous vs. the trials of a struggling church.
  3. The problems of church planting are limited compared to the problems of dying church.
  4. We all want to rejoice in a birth instead of caring for the sick or morning the dead.
  5. A grand opening celebration is more appealing than a long and strenuous rehab process.
  6. Positive reinforcement and recognition comes with church planting. Negative reinforcement, and at times rejection, is associated with church care and problem solving.

If you work with people you will have problems and the more people you have the more problems you will have.  And the more time you have these people, the more likely you are to have bigger challenges to overcome.  But this is no reason to give up and avoid the hard times.  Let us not let our existing churches dye while we have our eyes on starting new ones. It is when we embrace unification and restoration that bones come together, flesh develops out of past nothingness, skin covers the flesh out of former defeats, breath enters the bodies to all replace past failures and unforgiveness, and a vast army stands up stronger than ever.  What some see as a dying church, Christ sees as His resurrected and indestructible army!

Ministering at the Regional Church of God Exactly Nine Months before the Massive Youth Revival in the Schools of Delbarton, West Virginia

June 15, 2016 by  
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Click on the text-link to watch our message while ministering at the Regional Church of God exactly 9 months before the Massive Youth Revival in the Schools of Delbarton, West Virginiahttp://www.ustream.tv/recorded/69822047

15th Annual Conference of Bulgarian Churches in North America Building Bridges to Church and People in Bulgaria

May 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

Huston

Church of God Chaplaincy in Bulgaria: In the beginning…

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaBulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Celebrating a Decade of Ministry

We are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

But let us backup just a moment and start from the very beginning. In the summer of 1995, while pioneering the first Bulgarian church in the Chicago Metro, the local Church of God state office offered a civil chaplaincy training course for beginners. Unfortunately, due to our heavy church schedule, the chance to attend was low and virtually unobtainable. It was not until five years later that our interest in the field was finally rewarded, as in the summer of 2000 both my wife-to-be and I completed the required course work for chaplaincy accreditation, followed by an intense module at the Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, where essentially the whole idea for the resurrection of chaplaincy ministry in Bulgaria was born.

Today, our Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program has produced a number of graduates who are serving in various chaplaincy positions and civil services in Bulgaria. Please continue to pray for all our named and unnamed chaplains on mission. (Click here to read more)

Also important [click to read]:

Ministering at Regional Church of God in Delbarton, WV

April 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Video

At Bread of Life Church of God in Byron, GA

March 30, 2016 by  
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Bread of Life Church of God in Byron GA

The Church of God: A social history

February 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

4854453The Church of God: A SOCIAL HISTORY
by Mickey Crews

The University of Tennessee Press, KNOXVILLE

Copyright © 1990 by The University of Tennessee Press / Knoxville. All Rights Reserved. Manufactured in the United States of America. First Edition.

The paper in this book meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials.

READ the full text here: https://archive.org/details/churchofgodsociacrew

DOWNLOAD as PDF file here: https://archive.org/download/churchofgodsociacrew/churchofgodsociacrew.pdf

Empire State Church

November 20, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News

coa_russian_empire1First Things First magazine recently published a religion and public life article on the Russian church. The focus was on orthodoxy and its historic symbioses with the political state. Several remarks from various social observations are in order.

First off, the article seems to have been written by a person who never lived under socialist Soviet Russia and therefore presents a one-sided interpretation of the period. In order words, the information presented is true, but it’s limited to a single political, social and most importantly spiritual view interpretation. The used terminology of “de-Sovietization” is good example for the interpretive limitation. Other post-communist countries properly use the terminology “de-socialization” or even “de-communization,” though no country has ever reached a truly communist state.

Furthermore, the article’s purposefully excludes millions of Russian Catholics, evangelicals and Armenian Christian believers in Russia who were also severely persecuted under the Regime and were not allowed as much freedom of worship as the state Orthodox Church. They cannot be placed outside the perimeter of the revival movements after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, because many of those revivals happened first within their congregations and then influenced the Orthodox Church

The orthodoxy of the described state church is also under question since there’s never been a true Russian orthodox church. Eastern Christianity in Russia is rooted in the Greek Orthodox Church and heavily influenced by the 9th century Bulgarian Christianization of the Slavs prior to reaching Russia. Built after the early byzantine ecclesial model, the Russian church never experienced a true separation of church and state. One of the foundations of Orthodoxy since Constantine the Great has been a co-existential paradigm in the form of symbioses between the Orthodox Church and the political state. Thus, a true Orthodox church has always been an Empire church.

The article further omits historic communist influence of state police (KGB) over the church. During the Regime, KGB agents not only infiltrated Orthodox dioceses, but dictated the course of the church via specifically trained secret agents posing as priests within the church. Many of these agents were placed in key leadership positions as bishops and even the top patriarch of the Russian church. No one could obtain such position or any hierarchy promotion without signing up to cooperate with the state police. Until this influence, which continues in the church today, is exposed and the church is purified from all communist influence through “lustration,” there can never be an independent Russian church – it will always be an Empire church – with a capital “E,” and small “c.”

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